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Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death Hardcover – April 2, 2013
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"Cathartic" (The Wall Street Journal)
"Erica Brown is the teacher we all want and the guide we all need. Happier Endings is an elegant portrait of the most powerful part of being human: how we live. From the wisdom of the Bible to the frontier of the Internet, this important book makes the persuasive case that the final years of life are among the most critical – and the most meaningful. Bravo." (Bruce Feiler, bestselling author of Walking the Bible and The Council of Dads)
"Erica Brown has a unique voice. A woman of faith, she speaks to everyone searching for God and greater meaning. In Happier Endings, Erica explores our attitudes toward death by helping us identify what it means to be alive. She inspires and she reminds us what is most important before we say goodbye." (David Gregory, NBC News)
“Brown has what many people are looking for these days….conviction.” (David Brooks, The New York Times)
"Erica Brown is wise and brilliant, with a refreshing sense of humor and an enriching perspective on some of life's great challenges. Readers will find comfort and sustenance in her words." (Daniel Silva, author of The Fallen Angel)
"Brown addresses this painful subject with eloquence, honesty, and clarity; we can reckon with death, she avers, to change the lives we have now, to live fully and sincerely in the present moment, whatever we feel might happen afterward." (Library Journal starred review)
About the Author
Dr. Erica Brown is an educator and the author of ten books, mostly on the themes of spirituality and leadership. She lives with her husband, four children and two dogs just outside of Washington, DC.
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This is not a black and white book with a summary of death rituals. This book is so rich with information from broad perspectives. Dr. Brown presents a comprehensive and well researched view of death and death related rituals. Yet, she does so through storytelling and numerous "tongue-in-cheek" jokes. I simply could not put it down and at times I couldn't stop laughing (still am thinking about the fish tank in the Chinese restaurant).
I was fascinated learn about how different faiths and cultures approach death (discuss death, plan for death, experience death of loved ones). At the same time, I appreciated her returning to her own deep knowledge of Judaism as the foundation for her view of the world.
I must get this book for my friends.
Some of the particular cases she gives about families facing death are touching, but that was not enough for me to keep the book from becoming boring. I had a hard time sticking with it. But I hope some others will find more in it. It is a profound subject and can be approached from many different angels so perhaps this will be helpful to some.
I would have liked the author to emphasize all the evidence there is for a 'good' afterlife, rather than spend so much time on a rationale for suicide. If all the fears we have about death are mitigated, suicide would be a rare option indeed. Which is not to say that all of us shouldn't learn the 'signs' of someone who wants to commit suicide, and take steps to dissuade the potential suicide
Ms. Brown has explored death from all perspectives: religious and secular, fearful and welcoming, sudden and long-awaited. Her stories from those left behind in various scenarios are both thought provoking and enlightening. A theme she explores throughout the book is how to have a "good death," that is dying without fear, surrounded by loved ones who are focused on helping with this final and most important act.
As a person of middle age, I probably should know more about the effects of a death on the family and friends of the deceased, as well as how to plan for the departure of yourself or a loved one, but found myself woefully unprepared. Ms. Brown's book has given me food for much thought and planning. I can only hope to be as serene and comfortable in my last days as some of the people described here.
I would recommend this book to anyone who plans to, or knows someone who will die at sometime in the future.